Amajor piece is in place for the upcoming 2022 NASCAR Cup Series season. The sanctioning body has set the horsepower and aerodynamics package for races at Daytona International Speedway, Talladega Superspeedway, and Atlanta Motor Speedway.
NASCAR officials announced on Tuesday, January 11, that the Next Gen cars will use a package featuring 510 horsepower and a seven-inch spoiler. The goal is to keep speeds in check during the Daytona 500, Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500, and other races at Daytona, Talladega, and Atlanta.
The first day of testing at Daytona International Speedway featured speeds in the range of 187-189 mph, which fit with NASCAR’s goals for the tracks over 2.5 miles. The two-day test session at Atlanta Motor Speedway on January 5-6 featured speeds around 181 mph on the new, 28-degree banked turns.
The Test Session Featured Some Intensity
A select few teams in attendance for the first day of testing took part in some pack racing. Kurt Busch, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and other Cup Series drivers jockeyed for position on the track while getting a better feel for the aerodynamics.
Logano told media members after the session that the competition was intense. He said that the cars weren’t handling quite the way they wanted them just yet, but he added that the drivers were shoving each other pretty hard near the end of the session.
“Now granted, there’s no trophy. There’s no points. There’s no money on the line. So I think the level of intensity when they come back will be ratcheted up significantly,” said John Probst, NASCAR’s Senior Vice President of Racing Innovation, after watching the group session. “But I think that if you look at what the cars were able to do as far as spreading out, grouping back up, moving around, definitely three-wide a couple times, I feel like we’re in a really good spot, put on a pretty good show February here in the 500.”
NASCAR Has Set Rules Packages for the Entire Season
With the latest decision about the superspeedway races, NASCAR has now put the rules in place for all of the races on the 2022 Cup Series schedule. The superspeedway races will feature lower horsepower and a bigger spoiler. The rest of the races, for comparison, will have higher horsepower and a smaller spoiler.
Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR’s EVP and Chief Racing Development Officer, announced on December 17 that the majority of races on the schedule will feature the 670-horsepower package with a centered, four-inch spoiler. This decision created excitement among the drivers and teams while setting the stage for a fascinating season of racing.
“After hours of wind tunnel and on-track testing, as well as feedback from drivers and the larger industry, NASCAR will move to higher horsepower, lower downforce for each of its non-superspeedway NASCAR Cup Series events,” O’Donnell said in a statement.
“We believe the setup featuring the 670hp engine and 4-inch spoiler will lead to strong, intense competition and put the racing squarely in the hands of the best drivers in the world. That was the goal we set for the industry as we developed the Next Gen car. We are confident in the direction we’re headed and very much look forward to the racing in 2022 and beyond.”
The horsepower packages are set for the 2022 season, but there are mores test sessions on the horizon. The Cup Series drivers will first take part in the second day of testing at Daytona International Speedway on January 12. They will then head to Phoenix Raceway on January 25-26 for the final preseason test of the Next Gen cars.